Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mini-Review of HP and the Order of the Phoenix

There is a door at the end of a silent corridor, and it's haunting Harry Potter's dreams. Why else would he be waking in the middle of the night, screaming in terror?

Here are just a few of the things on Harry's mind:

• A Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher with a personality like poisoned honey
• A venomous, disgruntled house-elf
• Ron as Keeper of the Gryffindor Quidditch team
• The looming terror of the end-of-term Ordinary Wizarding Level exams

. . . and of course, the growing threat of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

In the richest installment yet of J.K. Rowling's seven-part story, Harry Potter is faced with the unreliability of the very government of the magical world and the impotence of the authorities at Hogwarts.

Despite this (or perhaps because of it), he finds depth and strength in his friends, beyond what even he knew; boundless loyalty; and unbearable sacrifice.

Though thick runs the plot (as well as the spine), readers will race through these pages and leave Hogwarts, like Harry, wishing only for the next train back.
 [from Goodreads]

Rating:  4.5 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience: Muggles of all ages
High point:  The action and suspense
Reader maturity:  13+

After finishing Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I can say that I'm truly, truly glad that I decided to put myself on a Harry Potter Hiatus.

The first time I read HP and the Order of the Phoenix, I was overwhelmingly irritated by Harry's woe-is-me, everybody-hates-me attitude, and while I had read and reread Years 1-4, after Year 5, I only read each book once, just so I wouldn't have to go through what I called Harry's Angsty Year again. Fortunately, my own life experiences have tempered the magnitude of Harry's angst, and I'm now able to see Hermione's soft heart shining through her outer shell, Ron's potential now that he's out from under the shadow of his brothers and Ginny's strength and unique way of dealing with Harry's attitude. On my first reading, all the nuances of tone and character were overshadowed by Harry, and I'm glad that I finally reread what is really an awesome book, possibly the best in the series so far.

The writing gets more complicated, as more storylines are being woven and juggled and foreshadowed, and knowing what happens in Years 6 and 7 only gives me more questions about Year 5. Why is Snape so horrible to Harry? I figured that, after he discovered what a horrible childhood Harry's had (so similar to his own) that he could show Harry a bit of compassion. That horrible childhood sets Harry apart from his father, James, by a mile. Also, I know what Snape...errr, does in memory of Lily, so it seems that, even though he hated James Potter, he would show Harry a bit more kindness in her memory as well. But he doesn't, which made me wonder how he would've treated Harry if Harry had been in Slytherin.

One of the things I love most about this novel is how Harry friends rally around him, even when he's being angsty and annoying and shouting at everyone. They're patient (but not too patient), and they're still there for him, even after his Angsty Year. Of course, they're also brave and true Gryffindors, willing to risk life and limb to fly to the Department of Mysteries because Harry feels strongly that they should go. They don't question or balk (well, Hermione does, but it's due to concerns about Harry's safety rather than her own).

So all in all, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is brilliance.

What did you think of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix? If you've reread it, are your thoughts on it different than before you saw the movie/read the rest of the series? Have you ever read the series straight through? Did your family and friends wish you'd stop calling people "Muggles" and jinxing them under your breath?

Title:  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Author:  J. K. Rowling
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Year:  2003
Book Source:  Purchased

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